Dr. Megan Hood, a clinical psychologist with an expertise in stress management at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, said trying to attain a more stress-free existence is a pretty popular goal around the holidays and the new year.
But staying away from stress is not as simple as making a New Year’s Eve wish.
- Enjoy the moment. Don’t always rush ahead to the next thing, Hood cautions. Take a second to just enjoy the small things in life: a catchy song playing, a nice smell or something positive going on around you.
- Plan ahead—when you can. Having plans and maintaining schedules is a good thing, but make your goals manageable and realistic, and don’t worry about anything out of your control, Hood says.
- Be active. Plan an activity with your family that doesn’t involve vegging out on the couch, Hood advises.
- Have healthy snacks available. In accordance with your overall health, be sure to eat foods that are good for you, especially after splurging on holiday food.
- Do something that makes you feel good. The holidays involve giving gifts to others, but don’t forget about yourself when they are over. Hood recommends participating in whatever brings a smile to your face, whatever you enjoy, especially social groups or activities.
- Volunteer. Helping people helps us feel positive and better about ourselves, Hood says.
- Take deep, short breaths. Don’t underestimate the power of deep breathing. When you trick your body into relaxing, the mind and the thoughts follow, Hood explains.
- Expect the best. Always be positive, Hood adds. If you intentionally expect good things and good results, you’ll probably get them.